300 review by The Grim Ringler


Lets face it, if you were going to see this then you have already seen it. Its hard to resist the allure of bombast and shirtless men. Witness the popularity of the Benji films. Theres something raw and primal about war movies and when you throw in some history, even if its pseudo-history, it seems to connect with people. So, knowing that most people know whether they want to see this film or not, Ill skip the shouting and the chest thumping and get on with it.

Sparta is under attack. All that they love and hold as dear is threatened by the spreading of the Persian Empire, which looks to add Sparta to its holdings. Sparta is a nation of power and epitomizes strength and honor would be a perfect ally for the Persians. The Spartans have no interest in joining with the Persians though because it will mean the loss of the freedom they hold so dear and will mean the end of their own ways. The Spartans have their own laws, their own rituals, and their own traditions and they will do everything possible to resist being absorbed into a great force, thus losing what makes them unique. Choosing war over subjugation, a small force of 300 of Spartas finest warriors head with their king to the coast, to try to ambush the Persian forces and hold them long enough to prove they are not a nation easily conquered. The Spartans face the Persian force with blind bravery and bravado and push back their opponent at every push but it is when one of their own people betrays them that they face the chance of losing not just their lives but all they love to the Persians. Only the queen, working behind the scenes on the politics of this un-declared war, can hope to call the people together to get an army to join those 300 before they die in vain and all is lost.

It amuses the hell out of me when I hear or read about how this movie has some nefarious subtext that I dont think the graphic novels writer, or the filmmakers saw. No, this is not a pro-war film, this is not an anti-gay film, this is not a film about America wanting to beat up Iran. What this is is the story and a highly embellished version of said story of free will. The Spartans symbolize anyone who cherishes their freedom and what they stand for and this is a celebration of that belief. The film says that some things are meant to be fought for, because the ideal is greater than any losses that might occur. Really though, this is just a really fun action film. The stunts and special effects are ridiculous, the dialogue is more speechifying than anything else, and yeah, actors tend to SHOUT their lines rather than deliver them but none of that matters. What matters is this is good. Hell, its great.

It Creates a surreal world where monstrous men fight along normal men and no one blinks an eye. This is a beautiful use of green screens and of shooting on stages and shows, like Sin City that sometimes less can lead to more. This film mixes myth and reality in a way that creates a new pseudo-reality that we dont believe in but WANT to believe in. This works in ways that say Troy couldnt because, again, less was more, and without the grandiose and overpowering elements 300 can focus on these 300 men and their fight. None of this is to say that the character of the queen is an un-important one though, dont get me wrong. Keeping the film grounded in reality and entrenched in bureaucratic nonsense, but her pride and love for her husband and nation really bring her character to life. In fact, as over the top as some of the acting is, it works. Everything here works. The story is larger than life and so is the film, and director Snyder captures that. Coming off of Dawn of the Dead, Snyder had gotten a lot of praise for his dynamic direction but an almost equal amount of ire from fans angry that hed remade a classic film. With this new film he is able to set himself apart and show what a talent he is. A lot of filmmakers use digital effects and green screens as a way to hide limitations in their films but here he uses these as the tools they were meant to be and not as crutches. There are rare, if any moments where you are taken from the story of the film because of an effect, which is proof that these can be effective tools.

This is certainly not a film for everyone. Its very violent, very brutal, and is a perfect example of what sort of adult stories can be told with the medium of graphic novels. Beneath the bluster and blood though is a very simple story of standing up for what you believe in, whatever the cost, and thats a message we cant get hear enough.


9 out of 10 Jackasses
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